KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Studies: Against Best Advice, Docs Continue Unneeded Prostate Screenings

JAMA and another journal found that despite government recommendations, doctors continue to screen too many men for prostate cancer.

ABC News: US Men Ignoring 2008 Prostate Screening Guidelines
Warren Buffett’s decision to undergo prostate cancer screening reflects the reality that nearly half of American men 75 and older continue being tested despite official recommendations against doing so, researchers reported today. … In 2008, the USPSTF issued a recommendation that found limited benefit for screening men ages 75 and older for prostate cancer (Allen, 4/24).

MedPage Today: Docs May Resist PSA Screening Recommendations 
In the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers led by Sandip Prasad, MD, of the University of Chicago Medical Center, reported that a previous recommendation of the task force had almost no effect on clinical practice. And in Archives of Neurology, researchers led by Craig Pollack, MD, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, found that, in a diverse sample of doctors, the current recommendation was unlikely to change their practice markedly (Smith, 4/24).

Boston Globe: Older Men Failing To Follow Prostate Cancer Screening Recommendations
Last week, we heard news that 81-year-old billionaire Warren Buffett was diagnosed with prostate cancer after having the finding initially detected through a screening blood test to measure a cancer marker called prostate specific antigen. That was despite guidelines from a national task force that have been in place since 2008 recommending against the use of PSA screening in men over age 75 due to its lack of benefit. As it turns out, Buffett stands in good company. Nearly 44 percent of men his age got screened with a PSA test in 2010, a rate that has remained unchanged since 2005, according to a research letter published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Kotz, 4/24). 

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